-------------------------Monitor------------------------ The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control Issue 87 www.windmill.co.uk October 2005 --------------------ISSN 1472-0221---------------------- Welcome to Issue 87 of Monitor. This month, a diesel engine monitoring story that shows how free data acquisition software can save time and reduce errors. We hope you find the newsletter useful, but should you wish to cancel your subscription you can do so at http://www.windmill.co.uk/newsletter.html CONTENTS ======== * Windmill News: Free Software used in Diesel Engine Research * Excel Corner: Speedy Charts * Windmill Notes: Understanding Setup Files (*.ims) ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Windmill News: Free Software Used in Diesel Engine Research ________________________________________________________ Diesel particulate emissions need to be reduced to produce a cleaner environment. A recent draft package from the European Union proposes that such emissions be slashed by 80%. Researcher Edward Winward at Loughborough University is investigating how compression ratio and fuel composition affect engine emissions. To control the research engine and eddy current dynamometer (AG150HS) he uses a Froude Consine Texcel V4. This is operated from its front panel which indicates the current engine speed and torque. Until recently these figures had been recorded manually. Due to the long duration of the tests this became laborious and prone to error. The original Froude host software was too expensive for the project's budget and so Winward investigated alternative methods. From reading the operator's manual for the controller he realised that it uses standard ASCII text commands and responses via a serial interface. Rather than developing an application to communicate with the controller he did some research on the subject on the internet and found the free Windmill software. Using the Windmill ConfIML software Winward established that he could command the controller to send data packets with the engine speed, torque and configuration settings. He could then parse these to extract the required information. "I found the process of configuring Windmill to do this relatively straightforward and soon had a total of ten separate channels recording the current state of the engine and dynamometer." He then used the Windmill Logger and DDE Panel applications to collect data for later processing. Windmill stores the data in a text file which can be imported into almost any Windows analysis software, such as Excel. Ultimately, he plans to send commands to the controller to control the engine and dynamometer via a PC and therefore precisely control a test from beginning to end. To do this he could use the Windmill IML Tools (http://www.windmill.co.uk/tools.html) or Test Sequence (http://www.windmillsoft.com/daqshop/test-control.html) programs. The Windmill applications have even helped Edward Winward with LabView software from National Instruments... "After learning LabView recently, I have now also applied the ASCII command and response parsing technique I learned in Windmill to experiment with using LabView to collect the data from the controller. This has worked but has proven more difficult than with Windmill due to way in which commands are sent in LabView and the responses parsed. I made great use of ConfIML during the debugging process when developing the LabView VI." Eventually, both the Windmill and LabView set-ups will find use outside the project for research and teaching purposes in the Loughborough Powertrains Laboratory. More Information... http://www.windmill.co.uk/diesel.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Excel Corner: Speedy Charts ________________________________________________________ To instantly create a chart in Excel just select the cells to be charted and press the F11 key. A column chart of your data appears. To change the default chart type from column to something else: 1. From the Chart menu, click Chart Type 2. Select the Chart type you want and click the Set as default chart button. 3. Click OK. For more tips on using Excel see http://www.windmill.co.uk/excel/ http://www.windmill.co.uk/excel/excel-charting.html ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Windmill Notes: Understanding Setup Files (*.ims) ________________________________________________________ Once you've installed the data acquisition drivers, you can configure all your measurement equipment with one program: Windmill SetupIML. SetupIML scans your measurement hardware and creates a complete default set-up to get you started. When you edit this set-up the menus and dialogues show only those options available with your hardware, so you cannot go wrong. All the details are stored in *.ims files and you can create a library of files for different procedures. Your chosen channel names and details are used consistently throughout the Windmill system, even when data is exported to other applications. The *.ims files are text files containing rows of information like this I 00000 N=Chan1 E=1 M=A T=G O=0 R=07 S=1 U=volts I 00001 N=Chan2 E=1 M=A T=G O=0 R=07 S=1 U=volts I 00002 N=Chan3 E=1 M=A T=G O=0 R=07 S=1 U=volts I 00003 N=Chan4 E=1 M=A T=G O=0 R=07 S=1 U=volts I 00004 N=Chan5 E=1 M=A T=G O=0 R=07 S=1 U=volts I 00005 N=Chan6 E=1 M=A T=G O=0 R=07 S=1 U=volts You don't need to know what this all means to use Windmill, so if you aren't interested skip the rest of this section and download the software to see for yourself what it can do. Back to the *.ims file. Each line refers to one channel of data. The first letter indicates the type of channel. I, for example, indicates an input channel. Channel Numbers and Names ========================= Next comes a 5 digit channel number. The final two digits of this number pin-point the channel whilst the second and third digits identify the instrument or module providing the channel. Some systems are rack- or frame-based and in this case the first digit identifies the rack. For example, a system may comprise two racks of modules, each module providing several measurement channels. A channel number in the this case may be 10305: 1 refers to the rack, 03 refers to a module in the rack and 05 refers to a channel provided by that module. SetupIML lets you identify the channels by name rather than by number. In the *.ims file the channel name comes after "N=". So if N=Chan1 the name of the channel is Chan1. Turning Off Channels ==================== You can tell Windmill not to try to read or write to a channel. This is shown in the *.ims file by the E= setting. If E=1 a channel is enabled, if E=0 it is disabled and cannot be used. Types of Measurement ==================== M= refers to the type of measurement available with this channel. M=A means Analogue voltage or current will be measured, M=D specifies a digital channel (relays, switches, etc). Channel Ranges ============== SetupIML lets you specify the range of a channel. It's best to choose the smallest range that encompasses your signal as this optimises the resolution. The R= setting specifies the range. For example, R=00 sets Windmill to automatically pick the most appropriate range. The other settings start at "01" for +/-100 V down to "26" for 0 to 0.01 V. Engineering Units ================= Finally O, S and U all refer to converting the raw reading to other engineering units. O is for an offset, S is for a scaling factor and U is for the name of the units. New Units = Scale x Standard Units + Offset Although you can change the *.ims file by editing it directly, we recommend that instead you use the SetupIML program to do so. SetupIML will not let you enter conflicting settings. More details on Windmill and SetupIML... http://www.windmill.co.uk/windmill.html#hardware http://www.windmill.co.uk/help.html Sign up to the Monitor newsletter and download your ree copy of Version 4.3 of the Windmill data acquisition software. ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ * Copyright Windmill Software Ltd * Reprinting permitted with this notice included * For more articles see http://www.windmill.co.uk We are happy for you to copy and distribute this newsletter, and use extracts from it on your own web site or publication, providing the above notice is included and a link back to our website is in place. An archive of previous issues is at http://www.windmill.co.uk/newsletter.html and an index of articles at http://www.windmill.co.uk/newsletter.html Windmill Software Ltd, PO Box 58, North District Office, Manchester, M8 8QR, UK Telephone: +44 (0)161 833 2782 Facsimile: +44 (0)161 833 2190 E-mail: email@example.com http://www.windmill.co.uk/ http://www.windmillsoft.com/
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